Many countries have been testing out the merits of a four-day workweek to facilitate better work-life balance. But earlier this week, the United Arab Emirates became the first country in the world to formally implement a national workweek that is shorter than the standard five days. Starting in January 2022, the UAE will observe a four-and-a-half-day workweek with the weekend starting at noon on Friday and lasting through Sunday. This transition also marks a shift in the traditional workweek observed by the majority of nations in the Middle East. Customarily, employees work Sunday through Thursday and have Friday and Saturday for the weekend, which allows for a full day off for religious observance of Muslim prayers on Friday.
“Adopting an agile working system will enable the UAE to rapidly respond to emerging changes and enhance wellbeing in the workplace,” says a statement from the Emirates News Agency. “From an economic perspective, the new working week will better align the UAE with global markets, reflecting the country’s strategic status on the global economic map. It will ensure smooth financial, trade, and economic transactions with countries that follow a Saturday/Sunday weekend, facilitating stronger international business links and opportunities for thousands of UAE-based and multinational companies.”
Furthermore, the UAE’s government hopes that the new long weekend will help promote work-life balance and enhance the social well-being of its employees. To accommodate the changes, Friday sermons and prayers in the UAE will be held after 1:15 pm instead of their traditional noon time slot. Staff will also have more flexibility to work from home on Fridays or adjust their working hours. Currently, the change only applies to Federal government employees, although it is likely that businesses in the private sector will follow suit. Several schools and universities have already announced that they will shift their schedules to accommodate the new workweek.
Time will only tell the benefits that this shift will have for the country’s workers. Meanwhile, some are already speculating as to the potential ramifications it could have for the nation’s tourism.
The UAE is the first country in the world to officially implement a shorter workweek.
#UAE announces today that it will transition to a four and a half day working week, with Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday forming the new weekend.
All Federal government departments will move to the new weekend from January 1, 2022. pic.twitter.com/tQoa22pai9
— UAEGOV (@UAEmediaoffice) December 7, 2021
h/t: [The Points Guy]